As you may already know, chef-lebrity Aarón Sanchez has revamped the menus at the House of Blues, including our very own French Quarter location. The new menus are being rolled out one by one, with the corporate team led by Sanchez going to each location to coach up the local staff on the new menu items, preparation and presentation. (Sanchez was in Houston last month to do this, and Eater Houston had a great interview with the man himself.) He's been here this week to guide HOB New Orleans' transition to the new concept and generally play around.
As of Monday the restaurant at the music venue is officially called Crossroads at the House of Blues, with the new menu fully in place. They threw down last night with a launch party to let invited guests get their drink on and taste the new menu items. Eater NOLA was fortunate enough to crash it?er, get invited.
When we got the chance to chat with Sanchez, and again when he addressed all the assembled guests, he was quick to say that he was glad to be back in New Orleans, having come here when he was 16 to study with Paul Prudhomme and having been a committed Saints fan since 1990. He even indulged the party by shouting "Who Dat!" So he clearly knows how to work a crowd and endear himself to the locals.
But the New Orleans influence is apparent in the menu. ("I tried to just think of what I like to eat and started with that," he said.) Aside from the burgers and sandwiches and salads that you'd expect to find on the menu at a place like House of Blues, Sanchez also included some seriously spicy shrimp and grits unique in their use of a pan-fried grit cake, and jambalaya. Also: bread pudding. In fact, your humble Eater NOLA editor was too busy indulging in the bread pudding and key lime pie (so much key lime pie!) to get around to trying the jambalaya.
At the tail end of the night, a small handful of us somehow finagled our way into getting a behind-the-scenes tour of the music venue (unfortunately, the kitchen wasn't part of the tour), which was filled with cool information like:
· There's a jar of Mississippi mud buried beneath the floor of the main hall, to keep the place in touch with its roots and what-not;
· A seriously famous rapper required that a box be built in the green room for his X Box, though we've been instructed not to mention who; and
· Of all the names on the "Sold Out Shows Wall," easily the most surprising was Bruce-freaking-Willis.
The point of all that is that, yeah, the House of Blues New Orleans has a new menu, and it might be pretty good. Just, if you go there, go easy on the key lime pie?stuff's delicious, but you don't need to eat 10 pounds of it. You won't feel well afterward. Take our word for it.